Saturday, November 3, 2007

Boxing Should Be Banned

I watched some of the 'Mountain Man's' fight last night. He got a good pasting in the end, cutting badly, blood pouring down his face. It should have been stopped earlier when he was severely cut. It is sad because to me it is the end of his being a serious threat. He has the skills, but he cannot take the hits, his skin cuts too easily and he cannot sustain the heat. He is a great boxer to watch, but unfortunately to me, it is all over. He may struggle on, but I would suggest getting a day job. Not that I would say that to his face, I would last about 5 seconds in the ring before you would see me running through the entrance at high pace!

The fight got me thinking about the question, 'when should a sport be banned?' Some would ban all body contact sports such as rugby and league on the basis of the injuries generated. I can see why, the injury toll is shocking, the cost to society of these injuries through the health system and ACC is massive. There is of course a trade-off, society getting a lot of pleasure out of the sport, young men kept off the street and fitness and health benefits. Mind you, having been a part of the Kiwi rugby culture, I am not sure that 'young men kept off the street' works. It was in the context of sport that I became a heavy drinker and got up to all sorts of stuff. It works both ways for sure in many sports.

So where is the line? To me one point at which the line should be drawn is where sports involve intentional attacking of the head. This is what boxing is about. The ultimate goal is to knock out the opposition, inflicting enough damage to the opponent brain that he/she is unable to defend themselves, to stand up i.e. concuss the opposition.

Now concussion is a really dangerous thing. According to concussion causes irreversible detruction of some brain cells and others are left alive but in a vulnerable state. This lead to the neurovacular system being unable to respond to the demand for energy to restore brain function. Even a moderate head injury from a non-penetrating blow to the head or shaking causes brain injury. Even though many can recover, for some this leads to lifelong disability.

The brain is mobile within the skull. It is cuishioned from the skull by the cerebral spinal fluid. However, when the head is subjected to violent forces including a punch in the head, it can be damaged permanently. It causes brain tissue to be 'ripped, torn, stretched, battered and bruised.' It leads to bleading, swelling and bruising. The brain can often recover, at other times lifelong difficulties can occur. We have all seen images of Ali and other ex-boxers who are substantially damaged. Basic functions such as walking, talking, thinking, remembering and mood can be affected. Even minor head injury can cause substantial difficulties that can be lifelong.

We are a strange society. We are PC to the core but we let boxing go ahead without thought. The sight of Cameron staggering around with blood all over his face may have appealed to the ancient Romans and set off a sense of macho power within us blokes, but it is ridiculous that it is permitted today. We should know better.

So for me, sports that target the head intentionally should be banned. All such sport should be banned. Don't get me wrong, boxing gets my blood racing, my testosterone gets moving and I find it exhilirating. But it also leaves me with a sick feeling in the gut. That is because it should be banned and I know it.

So, sorry, but I am a party pooper. Boxing should be banned, and sad though it is, Cameron the mountain man is no longer a threat.

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